Ephemeral Cities:

Sustainable Research into Non-Sustainable Urban Objects

Ephemeral Cities

Ephemeral Cities is a cross-disciplinary collaborative project funded by UCL’s Grand Challenges Grants Scheme (Sustainable Cities). The project is organised by Richard Taws (History of Art), Jann Matlock (French, SELCS) and Barbara Penner (Bartlett School of Architecture). As well as working with academics and postgraduates from the organisers’ departments and with established research groups, the project will expand to involve researchers in other departments at UCL and further afield

Ephemeral Cities begins with the premise that sustainable cities must contemplate their pasts as well as their futures. While researching the ephemeral aspects of cities might seem antithetical to an analysis of the sustainable city, we argue that the broken and the ruined, the ephemeral and the short-lived, the torn-down and the wasted, are crucial to policy as well as practices of sustainability. Ephemeral Cities will provide a historical and contextual investigation of buildings, objects, images, and spaces that either fell by the wayside or were never meant to last. Investigating how ephemerality came to stand for the experience of urban life in the period from the late-eighteenth century to the twentieth century, we ask how lessons from the past might help us meet the challenge presented by our own discarded objects in the cities of the future.

This project will create a network of scholars in Europe and North America working on ruin, obsolescence, waste, and demolition in modern cities. Grand Challenges funding will support interdisciplinary workshops, lectures, screenings and site visits. More details about events planned for next year will follow soon.

For more information, please contact:

Richard Taws r.taws@ucl.ac.uk

Jann Matlock j.matlock@ucl.ac.uk

Barbara Penner b.penner@ucl.ac.uk